One of the biggest movie hits this summer was “The Devil Wears Prada.” It’s about a not-so-chic girl who gets her first real job at the trendiest fashion magazine on the stands. Unfortunately, the amount of respect Anne Hathaway’s character Andrea Sachs receives depends on how much she spends on her wardrobe.
It’s true that in the corporate world, the way you present yourself can make or break a deal. But sometimes finding clothes that are appropriate and fashionable can also break your bank account.
As a fourth-year student, I have had my fair share of interviews and internships. I recently received an internship at Cashman and Associates, an event planning public relations firm in the up and coming Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia.
The women employed at this firm are known somewhat as the fashionistas of Philly. Needless to say, my desire to appear both professional and stylish is utterly essential.
“Dressing appropriately definitely enhances
your career prospects, especially if you are a young person just entering the workforce,” said Kayce Cashman, public relations account executive. “It may seem frivolous, but dressing well helps to project a confident and capable image.”
Since their firm throws some of the hottest parties in Philly, a chic outward appearance is a must. “Employees at Cashman dress fashionably for events, but we always consider what is appropriate for the situation. A nightclub opening calls for one look, but a press conference requires something entirely different.” Cashman said.
Because it’s highly unlikely that the typical college student can afford the Chanel boots and Chloe bags sported in “The Devil Wears Prada”, the key to rationalizing expensive purchases is to make sure that they are functional.
Clothes for the work environment can quickly burn a hole in your pocket. A nice women’s suit will easily cost between $200 and $300. What would work best is investing in either one or two pairs of pants or skirts that are of high quality.
A pair of black or gray dress pants is a staple item in your wardrobe that can be mixed and matched with countless more inexpensive shirts, sweaters and blazers. For men, I think that it’s always important to invest in at least one well-fitted suit. Whether it be for a job interview or your girlfriend’s sorority formal, a good suit can last a while and each piece be used separately.
Personally, I am quite picky about how my pants fit, so I have no inhibition in spending a bit more money on pants that I know fit well and will last. Banana Republic, located at Broad and Walnut St., has a wonderful selection of business attire for men and women. Although it tends to be a bit on the pricey side, they have an amazing sale section. Another perk of Banana Republic that many people don’t know about, is that they offer free alterations on their full-priced clothing. From bags, to suits, to blouses and ties, it seems to be the perfect store to splurge on those few key pieces that can make you look luxurious.
Since your whole work wardrobe could total to be a hefty sum, there are many stores in Philadelphia that have a great selection of clothes for a fraction of the price. A store that supplies many fun accessories and trendy tops is the new H&M, located at 18th and Walnut.
H&M’s newest location is a huge two-story building, so you’re bound to find at least one thing you like. Their prices are wallet-friendly, ranging from $15 to $40 for women’s shirts and about $25 to $50 for women’s skirts and pants.
The men’s section, located on the second floor, has a literal rainbow of shirts and ties to choose from at reasonable prices. All dress shirts are $40 and silk ties are $30. With a wide-ranging selection of men’s sport coats, suits are priced at around $150. It’s a store that makes you look expensive without actually spending the money.
To get the shoes for your look, the new Steve Madden store is conveniently located right next door to H&M. With a large selection of colors, patterns and styles, Steve Madden serves as your outlet to being unique in the workplace.
Women’s shoes, depending on style, range from $70 to $400. Men’s shoes can range anywhere from $25 for sandals to $150 for their new fall boot. Men can walk out of the store with dress shoes for around $100.
Another untapped resource for cheap women’s shoes is the new Loehmann’s department store at 16th and Chestnut. Although the shoe section is small, it’s definitely worth a glance. With major designers, such as BCBG and Coach, each at close to half their original price, you can buy a pair for work and then one or two other pairs just for fun.
Possibly the best place for men to shop is Loehmann’s men’s department. They have DKNY, Kenneth Cole and French Connection apparel at prices anyone can afford. I saw DKNY dress shirts for $17 and Michael Kors ties for $20. They also have a large selection of men’s separates, so you can buy just the pants or jacket for around $70.
College is a time where your school work usually takes a back seat to partying. As you near the end of your college career, your priorities start to change. On your next shopping trip put that black, see-through, sequin top back on the rack and pick up a sweater vest.
Caitlin Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org